Scientists discover what’s killing the bees and it’s worse than you thought

July 24, 2013

As we’ve written before, the mysterious mass die-off of honey bees that pollinate $30 billion worth of crops in the US has so decimated America’s apis mellifera population that one bad winter could leave fields fallow. Now, a new study has pinpointed some of the probable causes of bee deaths and the rather scary results show that averting beemageddon will be much more difficult than previously thought.

Scientists had struggled to find the trigger for so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, worth $2 billion, over the past six years. Suspects have included pesticides, disease-bearing parasites and poor nutrition. But in a first-of-its-kind study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a witch’s brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying though they do not identify the specific cause of CCD, where an entire beehive dies at once.

When researchers collected pollen from hives on the east coast pollinating cranberry, watermelon and other crops and fed it to healthy bees, those bees showed a significant decline in their ability to resist infection by a parasite called Nosema ceranae. The parasite has been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder though scientists took pains to point out that their findings do not directly link the pesticides to CCD. The pollen was contaminated on average with nine different pesticides and fungicides though scientists discovered 21 agricultural chemicals in one sample. Scientists identified eight ag chemicals associated with increased risk of infection by the parasite.

Most disturbing, bees that ate pollen contaminated with fungicides were three times as likely to be infected by the parasite. Widely used, fungicides had been thought to be harmless for bees as they’re designed to kill fungus, not insects, on crops like apples.

“There’s growing evidence that fungicides may be affecting the bees on their own and I think what it highlights is a need to reassess how we label these agricultural chemicals,” Dennis vanEngelsdorp, the study’s lead author, told Quartz.

Labels on pesticides warn farmers not to spray when pollinating bees are in the vicinity but such precautions have not applied to fungicides.

Bee populations are so low in the US that it now takes 60% of the country’s surviving colonies just to pollinate one California crop, almonds. And that’s not just a west coast problem—California supplies 80% of the world’s almonds, a market worth $4 billion.

In recent years, a class of chemicals called neonicotinoids has been linked to bee deaths and in April regulators banned the use of the pesticide for two years in Europe where bee populations have also plummeted.

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Comment by Cryptocurrency on August 5, 2013 at 9:00pm

I don't think it's intentional at all. They're just a bunch of corporate goons that could care less. They know at the end of the day they're going to get fed, so what does it matter to them. It really doesn't. It's everyone else that will suffer as result.

Comment by Old Denmark on August 5, 2013 at 5:46am

Now come to think of it this is also great way/excuse to keep food prices skyrocketing. Heads should be rolling.

Comment by 14300 on August 4, 2013 at 4:10pm

Nov. 2, 2010 The EPA allowed higher pesticide/fungicide levels even though it knew the damages it would cause to bees.  The Company's name is BAYER CROP SCIENCE which is part of Monsanto's colleagues and "Bayer company" originated in Germany by the Nazis (I.G.Farben) - Look it up.)  They had full knowledge of what their chemicals could do to BEES - and did it anyway.  This is being done ON PURPOSE!

Comment by JOE on August 4, 2013 at 1:10pm

chemtrail bioweaponry kills the bees birds,butterflys you name it, oh and us slowly

Comment by 14300 on August 4, 2013 at 9:43am

Ahh - how will Monsanto's Robotic bee make "honey"?    By starting with GMO sugar or high fructose corn syrup.  If the bees die off - there will be no more honey as well as no more food.  Sure looks intentional to me as well. It's all part of their kill off 90% of the world's population.  I'm sure they have a "fix" for it - they just won't release it until 90% of all humans are killed off.

Comment by Maria De Wind on July 31, 2013 at 2:29am

You'll be able to rent their bees, either GMO or Robotic ... Monsanto will offer a solution for the problems they've created ... for a fee

Comment by Tara on July 31, 2013 at 1:38am

This is depressing because I love bee's just as much as I love dragonflies! When I was a kid, I would catch them to observe them and then set them free. Thankfully, I never got stung. It wouldn't have worked out for me or the bee.

I agree DS... seems to be intentional. But why??? It affects us all, even the elitist pricks behind the curtain.

Comment by Maria De Wind on July 31, 2013 at 1:36am

Don't be pessimistic technology comes to the rescue, This Robotic Bee Just Took Flight, To Pollinate Crops And (Maybe) S...

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Comment by Central Scrutinizer on July 30, 2013 at 10:55pm

gotta friend that raises these, he lost entire colony's last year. He had no idea what it was and got more 6 months later after cleaning, disinfecting hives. Told me about it later tho, told 'em he should have saved some for analysis. Going to show him this fer sure, Thanks!!

Comment by scotty michele brown on July 30, 2013 at 9:38pm

@Deep Space - I agree

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